Do we reason with logic

Contrary to Jean Piaget's theory (Inhelder and Piaget 1964 Piaget 1984), which described a logical stage of thinking as of the age of 14 or 15, new studies on cognitive psychology of reasoning have shown that adolescents and adults consistently make deduction errors in certain tasks, due to what are called reasoning biases (Evans 1989,1998, 2003 Houde 2000 Houde and Moutier 2004). For example, when the task was given to first read a rule such as, If there is not a red square on the left, then...

The twosystem model of the mind

Consider the expression, 17 x 24 For the great majority of people, the correct answer to the question will come to mind only if it is produced by a voluntary mental activity, which involves deliberate application of a rule, requires several steps of computation, storage and retrieval and takes a significant amount of time. For contrast, consider the word vomit. For the great majority of people, disgust will come to mind in a completely involuntary process, which is produced very quickly by a...

Cognitive Psychology of Moral Intuitions

Sunstein2 There have been profound changes in the psychological analysis of moral sentiments over the last few decades, from a conception of morality as a system of abstract rules that can be understood and internalized (Kohlberg 1969) to a view that emphasizes moral emotions and moral intuitions that are not anchored in reasons e.g., Greene and Haidt 2002 Haidt 2001 Rozin et al. 1999). In this brief essay, we sketch an analysis of moral intuitions that builds on...

Agency omission and brutal commission

To say the least, there has been much discussion of whether and why the distinction between acts and omissions might matter for morality, law, and policy. In one case, for example, a patient might ask a doctor not to provide life-sustaining equipment, thus ensuring the patient's death. In another case, a patient might ask a doctor to inject a substance that will immediately end the patient's life. Many people seem to have a strong moral intuition that the failure to provide life-sustaining...

Adultonset frontal damage

In the first set of cases, I shall discuss damage acquired in adulthood. The typical patient is someone who underwent normal development and had normal social conduct prior to the onset of neurological disease. Because the patient's behavior was normal prior to the onset of brain dysfunction, and because the environment did not change before or after the onset of abnormal behaviors, this type of patient allows us to investigate abnormal behaviors that cannot be explained by genomic,...

Earlyonset frontal damage

We have also studied patients with lesions similar to those described in the adult-onset group but acquired early in life, in fact as early as the first day of life and as late as age seven. In the 13 cases we have studied so far, we have investigated Fig. 2. Three-dimensional reconstruction, from high resolution MR scans, of two right-handed adults with damage to the dorso-lateral sector of the right prefrontal cortex region. In A, a 54 year old man, the damage resulting from head trauma...

Individual and Cultural Histories of Creation

Artistic and scientific creation are part of an individual history which itself stems from an anterior historical evolution. Thus H l ne Seckel (1988) would place La vision de Saint-Jean, (Saint John's Vision) by El Greco at the origins of Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon, followed by Les baigneurs (The Bathers) by C zanne, the Bain turc (Turkish Bath) by d'Ingres, and, among Picasso's own works, Le harem de 1906 (The Harem of 1906) and Deux femmes nues (Two Nudes) from the same year, with an...

Empathy

When Zahn-Waxler visited homes to find out how children respond to family members who were instructed to feign sadness (sobbing), pain (crying), or distress (choking), she discovered that children a little over one year of age already comfort others. This is a milestone in their development an aversive experience in another person draws out a concerned response. An unplanned side-bar to this classical study, however, was that some household pets appeared as worried as the children by the...

Can emotions help us reason

Contrary to Descartes' well-known dichotomy between reason and emotion, Damasio offers eloquent support for the view that the good use of reason depends on emotion (Bechara et al. 1997 Damasio 1994, 1999, 2003). In studying Phineas Gage's lesion (Damasio et al. 1994 Harlow 1848) and other more recent cases, Hanna and Antonio Damasio have shown that ventromedial prefrontal damage causes defects in reasoning decision making, emotion, and self-feeling. In line with their contributions, we...

Cognitive Conflict and Control in Moral Judgment

In a subsequent set of analyses, we subdivided the personal moral dilemmas into two categories on the basis of difficulty (i.e., based on reaction time). Consider the following moral dilemma (the crying baby dilemma) It is wartime, and you and some of your fellow villagers are hiding from enemy soldiers in a basement. Your baby starts to cry, and you cover your baby's mouth to block the sound. If you remove your hand, your baby will cry loudly, the soldiers will hear, and they will find you and...

Conflict Resolution Reconciliation

In the summer of 2002, various national European behavioral biology and ethology societies came together for a conference on animal conflict resolution. This field started out with simple descriptive work but is now rapidly moving towards a theoretical framework supported by observational as well as experimental data (for reviews, see de Waal 2000 Aureli and de Waal 2000 Aureli et al. 2002). Reconciliation was first reported by de Waal and van Roosmalen (1979). A typical example concerns two...

Moral Framing

A framing effect is said to occur when two extensionally equivalent statements evoke different judgments or preferences when presented singly, yet appear transparently equivalent when shown together (Tversky and Kahneman 1981). Framing effects arise because statements that are extensionally equivalent may nevertheless evoke different associations and different emotional responses. A cold cut described as 90 fat-free is more attractive than if it is described as 10 fat, and it is more likely to...

Did Evolution Fix Human Values

This conference on Neurobiology of Human Values, organised by the Fondation Ipsen, focuses on some very important aspects of the ever-controversial relationships between what we call mind and the brain. The title of its first session, From aesthetics to ethics, expresses in itself the aim of reaching the core components of the human evaluative capacity. Let me start with some assumptions that, due to the lack of space, I cannot explain in detail. I am sure thex will be easily accepted by...

Creation and Mental Darwinism

In defense of the genetic critique of the literary creation process, illustrated in manuscripts by Gustave Flaubert or Francis Ponge, Almuth Gresillon 1992 emphasizes that against the straight highway, the inexorable march toward resolution and outcome, the teleology of the straight line, we find opposite metaphors that indicate a more winding path forks, turnoffs, wrong turns, unbeaten paths, detours, crossroads, backtracks, dead ends, accidents, and false starts. According to Claude Simon,...

Emotional Engagement in Moral Judgment

Consider the following moral dilemma, known as the trolley dilemma Foot 1978 Thomson 1986 A runaway trolley is headed for five people who will be killed if it proceeds on its present course. The only way to save these people is to hit a switch that will turn the trolley onto a side track where it will run over and kill one person instead of five. Is it okay to turn the trolley in order to save five people at the expense of one The consensus among philosophers Fischer and Ravizza 1992 , as well...